Successfully reported this slideshow.
Activate your 14 day free trial to unlock unlimited reading.
Oscar Wilde claimed that suffering proved that
a good God does not govern the world.
If God cannot stop the suffering, then He is not all powerful.
If God will not stop the suffering
then He cannot be good and loving.
The faulty logic and wrong
conclusion evidenced by
Oscar Wilde is quite common.
Many question God's
or even existence, because
of suffering in the world.
The motto of the Scouts is: “Be prepared.”
Similarly, we as Christians must be prepared to answer those who
would ask us to explain what we believe, and why we believe.
We are exhorted to: “… contend earnestly for the
Faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.”
The Apostle Paul declared that he had been
appointed: “for the defense of the
Gospel.” Philippians 1:17
“But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes,
knowing that they generate strife.
And the servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to
teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition,
… 2 Timothy 2:24-26
if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the
truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the
snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.”
2 Timothy 2:24-26
We are commanded to study to show
ourselves approved unto God (2 Timothy 2:15).
To contend for the Faith, and to patiently
teach and correct those who are in opposition
if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that
they may know the truth, and that they may come
to their senses and escape the snare of the devil,
having been taken captive by him to do his will.
The Battle for the Mind
We are involved in a world war of worldviews.
The battle for the mind is at the heart of this war.
It is a battle for truth.
We need to know God’s Word and God’s work
so that we can give carefully reasoned answers
to those who are challenging the Christian Faith.
Some of them are honest skeptics who are genuinely looking for
answers. We need to patiently answer them, remembering that
we sometimes took many years to come to the convictions
that we now hold.
HOW CAN A GOOD GOD
The question of why there is evil in the world
was never discussed by the ancient philosophers
of Egypt, Babylon, Persia, Greece or Rome.
They were polytheists who had a
pantheon of gods.
Evil is the result of
conflicts between the gods.
For example, the historical account of the
war on Troy was reported by the Greeks
as the result of jealously and rivalry
between three goddesses.
However, with the understanding of a Holy and loving
God, which was a Hebrew concept revealed through the
prophets of Israel, the question of how there could be
evil in the world began to be discussed.
The book of Job is the oldest Theodicy that we know of. A
Theodicy is a defence of the justice of God in the light of
evil in the world. How can evil and suffering exist
when God is all powerful, and all good?
SIN AND SUFFERING
The friends of Job had a legalistic explanation that the reason Job
was suffering so terribly was because he must be guilty of terrible sin.
God severely rebuked these false counsellors and vindicated Job as a
blameless man targeted by satan.
When the disciples saw a man who was blind from birth,
they asked Jesus: “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or
his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus
answered, “Neither this man nor his parents
sinned, but that the works of God
should be revealed in him.” John 9:1-3
Suffering and evil is a result of the Fall.
God made a good and perfect world.
Before Adam and Eve chose to disobey God and
give in to the temptation of satan, the world was
without pain, suffering and death.
Evil came into the world as a result of
mankind’s rebellion against the Creator.
All of Creation continues to suffer as a result of the
sinfulness of human beings. Pain, disease, sorrow and
death are the terrible consequences of human
We can also say that
false religions cause
most of the suffering
in the world today:
Witchcraft, or Voodooism, has produced terrified, superstitious
followers who have engaged in ritual killings, cannibalism and cruelty.
Witchdoctors have routinely blamed individuals for natural disasters
such as a bolt of lightning striking a hut, or a death by disease.
With the drums playing and the witchdoctor swaying, in a trance, he
will identify some poor innocent soul as responsible for any given
event. That person would then be forced to jump off a high cliff, drink
poison, be fed to crocodiles, or clubbed to death. In many parts of
Africa young girls have been forced to have their front teeth sawn off
by the witchdoctor as part of their “beautification” ceremonies.
In one area that I know
of the most beautiful
girl in the district would
be sacrificed to the
Poor people have
their last chicken to
ancestral spirits, instead
nourishment to their
There is no doubt
that animism causes
Has produced idolatrous followers who have engaged in
infanticide, widow burning and the burning of lepers.
Missionary William Carey documented how widows
as young as eleven years old were burned alive on
the funeral pyre of their husband.
On one occasion over thirty widows of one man
were burned alive at the cremation of their
deceased husband. Lepers would be burned in order
to ensure “a better reincarnation!”
Many mothers sacrificed their children by throwing them
into the Ganges River to be eaten by crocodiles.
Because of Hinduism’s belief in reincarnation, rats may not be killed.
It would take a train five thousand kilometres
long to haul the grain eaten by Indian rats
in single year.
And Hindu temples contain vast fortunes of gold, rubies, sapphires
and other precious stones in their statues, which are worshipped as
idols. It is actually Hinduism’s reincarnation beliefs, protected
rats, idols made of gold and jewels, wasted resources and
superstitions that are causing much of the poverty and
starvation in that country.
Has produced callous males who abuse females, engage in polygamy,
slavery, slave raids, kidnapping, terrorism and suicide bombing.
Has produced commissars and comrades who
have slaughtered tens of millions of people in
the gulags and killing fields, in the name of
freedom. Marxists have oppressed and
impoverished millions more under their
dictatorships, in the name of liberation.
are slaves of
2 Peter 2:19
Has impoverished countless countries
and eroded economies,
in the name of uplifting the poor.
SECULAR HUMANIST EDUCATION
Is producing increasingly selfish, shallow, stupid and superficial
IDEAS AND ACTIONS
All suffering ultimately is a result of mankind’s sin
and rebellion against Almighty God.
Suffering is intrinsically related to the Fall.
There was no suffering prior to sin.
Suffering in this world is part of the complex of God’s
judgment on the world.
Everything has consequences.
Often leads to sexually transmitted diseases, herpes, gonorrhea,
AIDS, etc. Gambling often leads to poverty and bankruptcy.
Adultery often leads to divorce. Gossip separates friends.
Our selfishness hurts others. Lies lead to
bondage. Selfishness, cowardice, pride,
greed, envy and hate cause untold suffering
Passivity and neutrality causes even more
suffering. Inactivity and a heartless refusal
to get involved compounds the problem.
“All that is necessary for evil to triumph
is for good people to do nothing.”
BUT WHY DO THE
We all have personally seen many examples of
this principle of what a man sows that shall
However, we also know many cases of people suffering
as a result of no fault of their own. So, many people ask:
Why do bad things happen to good people?
Many are innocent victims of other people’s unrighteous
behaviour. Yet the Christian, confident in the Sovereignty
of God, can declare: “And we know that all things
work together for good to those who love God, to
those are the called according to His purpose.”
WHAT YOU MEANT FOR EVIL
GOD USED FOR GOOD
In the book of Genesis we read of the treachery of
Joseph’s brothers selling him to slave traders.
For twelve years Joseph suffered unjustly as a slave
and as a prisoner in Egypt.
Yet God raised him to
being the Governor of
Egypt to save the lives
of millions from
Later Joseph could
declare to his brothers:
“But as for you, you
meant evil against
me; but God meant it
for good, in order to
bring it about as it is
this day, to save
many people alive.”
NO ONE IS GOOD EXCEPT GOD ALONE
Of course, we could point out that no one is really good,
not in the light of a Holy God as revealed in His Law. “As it is written:
There is none righteous, no, not one; there is none that understands;
there is none that seeks after God. They have all turned aside; they
have together become unprofitable; there is none who does good,
no, not one. …For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
Instead of asking why do bad things happen to good
people we should rather ask:
why do so many good things happen to bad people?
We generally receive much better than we deserve.
God is most patient and gracious.
WHY DID JESUS SUFFER?
Another question which we should ask: Why did Jesus
Christ have to suffer ? He was the only truly good and
righteous person who ever lived. Yet Jesus was
misunderstood, slandered, falsely accused and lied about,
hated and betrayed.
He was forsaken by His followers, unjustly arrested,
illegally tried and wrongly condemned. Jesus was
mocked, beaten, whipped, insulted, slapped and
crucified. Why did the Righteous One have to suffer?
He suffered on behalf of us, He died for our sins. The just
in the place of the unjust . (1Peter 3:18)
LOVE IN ACTION
God is compassionate. He entered into this world
and suffered everything that we have suffered,
and much more. He even experienced the wrath of hell,
so that we would not have to.
The shortest verse in the Bible is: “Jesus wept.” (John
11:35). The Bible tells us to weep with those who weep
and laugh with those who laugh. Although Jesus was
about to demonstrate His power to raise Lazarus from the
dead, He was moved in Spirit and grieved over the
suffering that His friends were going through. We do not
serve a God who is unmoved by our afflictions.
PURPOSE in PAIN
We need to recognise that there may be a
purpose behind our pains.
Yes, we may be the innocent victim of
somebody else’s unrighteous behaviour.
The Lord may also be chastising me for
disobedience to His Word.
The suffering could also be part of the suffering for
righteousness which all Christians are called to.
The Lord does send circumstances and people to help us
develop our spiritual muscle and character.
“You therefore must endure hardship as a
good soldier of Jesus Christ.” 2Timothy 2:3
Military training is designed to shape characters, and
teach skills to save lives.
“Yes, and all
who desire to
live Godly in
w i l l s u f f e r
2 Timothy 3:12
“In this you greatly
rejoice, though now
for a little while, if
need be, you have
been grieved by
various trials, that
the genuiness of your
faith, being much
more precious than
gold that perishes,
though it is tested by
fire, may be found to
praise, honour and
glory at the Revelation
of Jesus Christ …”
1 Peter 1:6-7
“Beloved, do not
think it strange
concerning the fiery
trial which is to try
you, as though some
happened to you; but
rejoice to the extent
that you partake
when His Glory is
revealed, you will
also be glad with
be used by
God to purify
us and to
prepare us for
All of God’s servants
suffering while God
prepared them for
Moses was forty
years in the
b e c o m i n g t h e
Deliverer of Israel.
David was an
outlaw and a
“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not
to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”
“If Jesus Christ
be God and
died for me,
be too great
for me to make
SEARCH ME O GOD
When we experience trials we need to search our hearts to see if
there are some wicked ways in us that could be grounds for God to
be correcting us. This chastisement is designed to lead us to
repentance and to full restoration of fellowship.
Is there something God is saying to you?
Is there an error of your life that needs sorting out ?
You may not know why you are suffering, but it
is important that you respond in a Godly way.
“For to this you
also suffered for
us, leaving us
that you should
1 Peter 2:21
SERVING THE SUFFERING
Our Lord, Jesus Christ taught in the parable of The Good
Samaritan that we are to love our neighbour by
alleviating the suffering of others.
For this reason,
throughout the last
2,000 years, millions
of Christians have
hospitals in all
corners of the globe.
Even in the
projects to uplift
the poor and
Christians have steadfastly opposed
the slave trade and slavery,
abolished infanticide, widow
burning and cannibalism.
Feeding the hungry and launching missions to bring
countless millions to Christ are just some of the many
ways in which Christians throughout history have worked
to reduce suffering worldwide.
THE WORST SUFFERING POSSIBLE
We also need to consider what is the worst
suffering imaginable? The answer is
nothing that we will experience in this life.
The most extreme pain and suffering will be
experienced in an eternity in Hell,
separated from God forever.
The Bible clearly teaches that
those who reject Christ
will be cast into the Lake of Fire.
Some people raise issues of suffering and evil in the
world as some kind of theoretical smoke screen that
they can use to reject the free gift of Salvation from
We need to warn people about the reality of a Holy God,
whose Laws we have violated, and of the very real
danger of an eternity of regrets in Hell.
“..God…now commands all men everywhere
to repent.” Acts17:30
MAKING SENSE OUT OF SUFFERING
All suffering ultimately is a result
of mankind’s rebellion against
No one is sinless
Christ and He
suffered so that
we would not
have to suffer
eternally for our
There are no
people on the
earth. We are all
sinful in the light
of God’s Law.
We can learn and grow through suffering. Pain can
yield positive results in our character development. What
others mean for evil, God can use for good. God works all
things together for good for those who love Him and are
called according to His purpose.
Jesus Christ came and shared in human suffering
- He suffered more than any man. We can,
and we must, help alleviate the suffering of others.
Human suffering is ultimately caused by human sin
and God nailed that problem to the Cross
almost two thousand years ago.
This presentation has been
adapted from the book
The book and
MP3 Boxset Answering
are available from
Christian Liberty Books, PO
Box 358, Howard Place 7450,
Cape Town, South Africa,
Dr. Peter Hammond
P.O. Box 74
Cape Town, South Africa
Tel: (021) 689-4480
Fax: (021) 685-5884